I’m a Prisoner…

(c)2015, Lori East

Yes, I’m a prisoner. And it’s not good because I look awful in orange. Just kidding, I’m not in jail. But I really am a prisoner…to my UFOs.

I really believe that in order to make a real and lasting change to an uncomfortable or intolerable situation, you have to be so sick and tired of it that you can see nothing else to do but forge ahead and get to the other side of it. That’s where I am today. I am so tired of being owned by all of the projects I have in progress that I’m going to finish some of them. Maybe all of them. Finally. (Don’t laugh. I mean it.)

ABDs, (c) 2015, Lori East
This mess is just a fraction of the ABDs holding me captive.

I’m not going to share with you the exact number of UFOs (unfinished objects, for those who aren’t familiar with the term) I have. That might embarrass me. Or you, if you have more. Besides, I just don’t really know. I am kind of afraid to count. I do know that I really am sick of being owned by them though and am moving things out.

After years of starting something then stopping, for whatever reason, I have a huge stack of ABDs. ABDs? All But Done. Several of them just need a border, or need blocks put together and a border added. Often, once I see what a quilt is going to look like, like it or not, I am done with it. Off to the side it goes while I move on to something else.

Prisoner, (c) 2015, Lori East
Who wouldn’t be excited to jump into these?

The best part of any quilt, for me anyway, is that initial burst of excitement as I envision it and think through the steps to make it. Off I go, cutting, piecing, appliqueing, whatever, until I see how it’s going to finish. And then…I’m done.

Yes, I do love having a finished quilt, and obviously some do get finished, but more don’t. It’s hard to be part of a challenge, for example, without a finished piece, yes? And I’m pretty sure no show would let me hang something that hadn’t been trimmed and bound. That’s pushing the limits even for art quilters

The truth really is that I love designing the quilt, pulling the fabrics, and playing with color. That’s like eating the icing on a piece of cake first. Starting to sew is fun too, but not the best. There comes a point, though, especially if I’m working from a pattern, that I get sick of the drudgery of piecing the same thing over and over and over. So, I hang what I’ve finished on my wall, look at it carefully, and think, “Yeah, ok, it’s pretty good,” and pack it up to finish later. And start on the next project. Very few things get finished if they’re lying in the corner. As one of my friends says, “they just won’t finish themselves.”

If I’m not working from a pattern (and the above paragraph tells you why I prefer not to), I will sometimes hit a point when I start to doubt my choices. I do realize, logically, that this is a normal part of the process, but emotionally, I have a hard time standing up to it. So, guess what happens? Yep, it gets put aside for another new idea. The biggest problem here, is that when I go back later I often have a hard time figuring out what I was planning. I can’t be troubled to leave myself a note, I’ll remember, right? Yeah, no. So the cycle starts again.

But things are about to change. Truly. (I hear you laughing.)

Lately I’ve realized that all those unfinished pieces are trapping me. They’re holding me prisoner. I have so many ideas in my head right now that I just can’t wait to get started on. But everywhere I look, there are things begging to be finished, piles of scraps itching to be sewn together. Some of the things mock me. (I won’t tell you what they say because it’s rude.) All this works together to keep me stuck, though. Yep, stuck. And tired of it. I can see no other way to tackle new ideas than to clear up my mind with a clean slate. Well, clean-ER, anyway.

I see a piece of fabric that sparks an idea and pull it out, only to realize that I am using it in something else. Better not cut any more of it until that other thing is done. I might need it. Or I pull another piece and think, “Hey, I have that blue-whatever that would be great with this,” but guess what? I can’t find the blue-whatever because it’s bundled up with something else.

Honest. It’s going to change. (Stop laughing!) Here’s proof:

(c)2015, Lori East
Simple and cute, right? So what took so long?

Just a couple of days ago I finished this top that’s been lying around since just after Christmas 2006 (yes, I’m aware how many years that is). There is no reason at all it wasn’t done sooner, but how often do you need a Christmas quilt? It was hard to get motivated to work on it any other time so I put it away. Out of sight, out of mind. I’m piecing the back today and shipping it off to my friend Phyllis Arnett to quilt for me. You see, I’ve already asked Phyllis if she has any openings and it turned out that she had a February cancellation, so the sooner I get it in the mail, the better. I’m committed. That means that today, I’ve got to get that back sewn together. It’s flannel and is already preshrunk, so there’s no excuse. (I used Terry Atkinson Designs pattern “Birthday Presents,” from Take Two and Add a Few for this. The possibiities for this particular pattern could be really fun to explore. Someday.)

(c) 2015, Lori East
Remember this? Not done yet. But soon, I promise!

Yesterday I finished all the blocks for a piece I started when my son was a toddler. I think I last worked on it a year ago. (I even blogged about it here.) You think maybe it’s time for it to be done? Yeah, me too. I dithered about whether or not to put sashing between the blocks. There are a lot of seams and it’s obvious I was working on this in fits and starts with a little wildman in the house. The seams go every which way and matching them all up is tedious.I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do for sashing, though, so I gave up and just started sewing the blocks together. It’s not an ugly quilt at all, but let’s just say I am not quite as excited about it as I once was. I’m sure it’ll be fine once it’s quilted.

(c)2015, Lori East
Great pattern!

I also got all the blocks sewn together for three Quilts of Valor that I started late last summer. They will get their borders in the next couple of days. Looking at them, I’m sad that they’ve lain around so long when some servicemember could have been enjoying them. (My favorite pattern for Quilts of Valor, in case you’re curious, is Bonnie Hunter’s Strip Twist. It’s a great pattern that always gives a fun result. I’ve made several of them, and would like to make one for myself one of these days. But not today.)

 

I could continue to list projects that are in this same ABD state. There really are a bunch of them. Am I going to get them all done right away? Probably not, but that really is changing. (I thought I told you to stop laughing!!) I really am making a dent. I am not going to be a prisoner any more. And by writing this, I’m committing to you that I’m going to have some finishes. Soon. Very, very soon. You are free to remind me of this commitment. A little accountability is a very good thing. Check back here if you want to see what I get done. (Better yet, subscribe to get these posts by email so you don’t have to remember to check back! See that little box over there in right sidebar? Just type your email address in there and submit it.)

As of today, I’m done being held captive by all this stuff. Done, I tell you. But what about you? Does your backlog of projects own you too? Pick out one old project and leave me a comment below with the name of it and a statement that you’re planning to finish it this year. Maybe putting it in writing will help you commit too. And maybe I’ll even check up on you!

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  • Kathleen Gansert

    I’ve never heard the acronym ABD before, but it describes more than half of what’s stacked up in my quilting closet. You’re right about feeling imprisoned by unfinished projects. I have begun to think of them as an albatross hanging around my neck. Good luck in making a dent in your ABDs.

    • Lori East

      I am not sure, but I think I may have just made ABD up. It works, though, right? I knocked out three of them and have the stack out where it is right in my way as an incentive to getting them done. I won’t allow myself to move the table or the pile, so the only way is to finish them. Good luck in finishing some of yours!

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